This will be the final installment in our UFA Bargain Hunting feature, we looked at defencemen earlier this week and somehow excluded Brett Lebda. Brian Burke obviously felt that he was worthy of a two-year $2.9 million deal, chacun à son goût. We’ve touched on the market for goalies here before, and it’s looking more and more like even f
ormer top-tier netminders like Marty Turco will have to give someone a discount if they plan on playing in the NHL in 2010-11.
So let’s take a look at some goaltenders that could end up as a decent bargain for prospective clubs:
Manny Legace (37) Legace began last season on the outside looking in, until an injury to Cam Ward gave him an opportunity to play in Carolina. While he wasn’t spectacular (2.89 GAA and a .904 Sv%), Legace did a commendable job in 28 appearances with the Hurricanes. It was just three seasons ago when Legace was handling the bulk of duties in St. Louis, playing in 66 games, which was a career high. At 37-years old, his durability may be a question mark but he showed last season that he’s still capable of handling semi-regular duty in the show. He could potentially pack it in for good if there’s no takers. He’s not in the Hurricanes’ plans, but given his cheap price tag of $500,000 last season it wouldn’t be surprising to see a team sign him as a backup or for depth.
Vesa Toskala (33): Yes, I actually typed that. Toskala is a gamble, to put it lightly, although he was fairly sharp in limited duty with the Calgary Flames late last season. It’s hard to believe that his time in Toronto hasn’t eroded away what little confidence he had left. He never should have been a number one guy anywhere, but his performance as one leaves much to be desired regardless. If any GM is willing to take a risk on Toskala as a backup, he’ll come at a much cheaper price than the $4 million cap hit he was at last season. It could be problematic that Toskala believes he can still be a number one.
Jose Theodore (33): The 2010 recipient of the Bill Masterson trophy found himself in the unemployment line after the Washington Capitals elected to go with youth. The MVP form is behind him, but Theodore showed he can still handle the duty by posting his fourth 30-win season and keeping a somewhat tidy 2.81 GAA and a .911 Sv%. He’ll have to accept a limited role somewhere (think 25-40 games) as veteran presence. He could make a nice fit in Nashville as some insurance for Pekka Rinne, in my humble opinion.
Ray Emery (27): Emery, unlike the majority of his UFA goaltender brethren, has youth on his side. He’s still relatively young at 27, and he performed fairly well for a Flyers team that underachieved for most of the regular season. Emery managed to stay out of headlines for the right reasons before an abdominal injury derailed his season. He missed out on an opportunity to play in his second Stanley Cup Finals, and it’s entirely plausible that he may have made a difference for the Flyers. He came on the cheap for Philadelphia last season at a cap-friendly hit of $1.5 million, and he’ll have to take a similar deal if he plans on playing in the NHL again next season. Emery was dynamite for Mytishchi Atlant of the KHL two years ago, and it’s past performance that potential suitors would be paying for. The problem for Emery (and others) is a lack of demand for goaltending.